Snow Day Updates

Photo by Lee Canyon

The weather here in America’s hottest region has been strange this weekend, to say the least. It’s tens of degrees cooler than normal and we’re even getting snow in the mountains! Snow in late-May! It’s quite an event, let me tell you, and I’ve been trying to enjoy every second of it. Soon enough (like, just a few days from now!) we’ll be nearing 100-degree highs. I thought I’d take a little break from enjoying the outdoors, though, to share some reading & writing updates, as well as some “laudable linkage.”

Recent Reading Updates

This month, I’m focusing on Asian American & Pacific Islander writers, in honor of AAPI Heritage month here in the United States. So far, I’ve read four texts:

  1. In the Country by Mia Alvar. This one is a collection of short stories spanning the Filipino diaspora. The stories are narrated by men and women, in first, second, and third person, and in countries ranging from the Philippines to the United States, to Bahrain. The stories are held together well thematically, and Alvar has a knack for the surprise or dramatic ending, particularly in the shorter stories. What’s most interesting about the entire collection, though, is the many facets of the Filipino experience that it presents for the readers. I imagine Filipino readers will find much to relate with while reading, and others will learn a great deal.
  2. Threshold by Joseph O. Legaspi was my first poetry collection of the month. Legaspi is also a Filipino-American writer, and his poems reflect the tensions created by his multiculturalism as well as his sexuality. This is the third collection by Legaspi that I’ve read in the last year, and it’s a remarkable one. I might still favor his Imago, but there’s a lot to love and appreciate in this one.
  3. First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung is a memoir recounting Ung’s childhood during the Cambodian civil war. This is a brutally honest, sometimes graphic portrayal of what happened to Ung, her family, and many others like them when the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, rose up in insurrection against the Cambodian government, destroyed Phnom Penh, murdered anyone associated with the former government or any of its potential sympathizers (including those who worked for the police, those who were considered intellectuals, or anyone else who could pose a threat), and forced many others into work camps or military youth training. Absolutely harrowing and critical story.
  4. Let It Ride by Timothy Liu is the second poetry collection I’ve read so far this month (I have a re-read of Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds on deck). I’ve only read one other Liu collection to date, Burnt Offerings, which absolutely blew me away, so I was eager to revisit his work. I was not disappointed. While I didn’t quite appreciate this one as much as Burnt Offerings, I still found it a rock-solid collection, tightly themed and generous in its exploration of form. I’ve added several his other collections to my “TBR.”

Currently, I’m reading Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima. It’s funny, about half-way into the book, I felt the urge to learn a little bit about the author. His style intrigued me, as did the story, so I wanted to know who this guy was. While doing some light research, I realized I own two more books by this same author! I’m not sure how I missed that, but I guess it’s a sign that, really, I have too many books! (Is that a thing?)

Recent Writing Updates

Something exciting that’s happened since things have begun to reopen is that I found a new morning writing spot. I don’t want to name names because I’m not particularly interested in giving free advertising, but I will say that it’s a rather large chain which currently has an awesome marketing ploy to get people in the doors. It worked for me! I’ve been a little distracted there, to be honest, because the place gets very busy. That said, it’s so good to be getting back into a routine. For some reason, I’m the kind of person who cannot write well at home. I do all my editing and revising at home, but as far as the original invention and writing/drafting phases? I just can’t do it!

I’ve also just found out that Broad River Review will be publishing one of my poems in their 2021 issue releasing late-Fall. This poem is part of a collection I’ve been working on; it’s very dear to my heart right now, so I’m absolutely overjoyed that Broad River Review liked it, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world.

Items Worth Sharing

  • My dear friend Shannon of Prairie 724 Knots has a wonderful macramé shop filled with all sorts of cool, handmade products. She just made available her PRIDE collection and is donating 25% of all Pride sales to The Trevor Project, which is an organization near and dear to my heart. I hope you will consider supporting Shannon and The Trevor Project!
  • Ocean Vuong, my biggest writing inspiration in recent years, has two new poems out at The Yale Review. I think they are both worth reading (and learning from.) “The Last Prom Queen in Antarctica” and “Wood Working at the End of the World.” The last lines of “Wood Working” will take your breath away.
  • Andrew Smith, a favorite writer, gave this wonderful interview at James Preller’s blog just a few days ago. It was a great read!

5 Comments on “Snow Day Updates

  1. Snow in May! Now that must have made headline news…..

    First They Killed My Father sounds a harrowing read but I’m adding it to my wishlist because my knowledge of that period in Cambodian history is limited to watching the Killing Fields many many years ago

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: What’s So Great About Normal?: On Life After Lockdown – A.W. Burgess

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